This statement was written by French Ubisoft employees, including the STJV sections at Ubisoft Annecy, Ubisoft Montpellier and Ubisoft Paris, and adresses the situations we face in our day-to-day lives. While our conclusions may not apply to everyone within the company (due to legal differences between countries, for example), we believe that the principles described here remain valid and would be happy to get in touch with workers leading similar struggles outside of France.
To our fellow workers at Ubisoft,
As you surely know, we just went through the performance reviews and wage raises period, which comes with its share of questions. Since we know this situation all too well, the STJV members who work at Ubisoft have put together their thoughts and observations, and we wish to share them with you.
Let’s start with some analysis. Compensation policy is a complex topic, and to us it seems that Ubisoft top management is counting on diffusion of responsibility to skirt criticism. The process as it is presented to us is that HQ negotiates a remuneration budget with local HR, who then attribute it to projects. Managers would then attribute raises to their teams based on all that.
This process makes it so no one can really be held accountable for the decisions. HQ can explain that local HR didn’t argue their case well, local HR can explain that HQ didn’t allocate a good enough budget, managers can explain that HR didn’t give them any leeway…At the end of the day, the buck gets passed endlessly, and an individual’s wage is presented as an established fact, as if nothing could be done about it.
Beyond the smoke and mirrors, we reject the explicit link between one’s performance review and their raise. This may seem counter-intuitive: if someone makes efforts and improves their professional skills, shouldn’t they be rewarded? And yet, we believe that this causes two major problems.
- First, this doesn’t solve the inequalities that are created at hiring level, arising from discrimination, from circumstances that make it so some local Ubisoft entities can afford to hire at a higher wage than others, or other elements that shouldn’t have such an impact.
Raises are proportional to the current salary and only deepen existing inequalities : we want to center the debate on the value of wages.
- Moreover, since the total amount of raises is capped, creating a zero-sum game where managers have to apply evaluation “quotas” and justify (sometimes poorly) underrated performances. As if their teams could never have globally overperformed over the past year.
It is also important to point out that even with all of the decorum surrounding performance reviews, the standards used to evaluate us aren’t always easy to track or anticipate. Evaluation criteria are vague at best, and pre-requisites for seniority or position progression never made explicit. This only serves to reinforce a feeling of arbitrariness that frustrates everyone in the company, to the notable exception of the top management that can justify any of their decisions by leveraging this vagueness.
Thus, we make the following demands :
- Individual performance reviews should no longer be directly tied to wages. Compensation is limited by budgets which are, by definition, finite, whereas a whole team (or even a whole entity within the group) could very well have met and even exceeded expectations.
- It follows that evaluations should no longer be limited by quotas.
- Performance reviews should only be established by someone’s direct manager. That some of us are evaluated by their higher hierarchy, or that HR would be able to modify a manager’s assessment, is abnormal. Decorrelating wages and evaluation would allow the latter to be used for its original purpose as a tool of personal progression.
- Finally, performance reviews should come with training opportunities, in order to allow everyone to get better at their jobs and keep sharpening their skills.
- Seniority level progression conditions should be made explicit. This kind of acknowledgement is very important in our industry, and it is unacceptable that some may be left out on that front despite having good reviews.
- More precisely, not only should the expected skills to obtain a given seniority level be made clear, the means through which to nurture said skills and have them acknowledged at Ubisoft should also be clearer.
- It is certain that, once the previous need has been met, some people will find themselves with a job title that does not match their actual skills. Such discrepancies would have to be corrected through the appropriate promotions.
- We want equal pay for equal work. This requires the following:
- Obviously, we oppose any kind of discrimination in salary. Particularly, no one should ever be paid less for belonging to a marginalized group (as the law already forbids!).
- Transparency in wages is vital. HR have adopted a very ambiguous stance: they pretend that there is no salary guidance grid and explain that wages are left to individual negotiations, but through opacity and rigidity make it so most of those demands are not met. Who stands to gain from this misdirection?
- An impartial process must be created to guarantee accountability in case of dispute. We must make sure that each worker is fairly compensated for the value they create for Ubisoft (thus making it one of the leaders in the market), and that an end is put to all arbitrary and discriminatory practices.
- Any employee should be able to request to be reevaluated by a neutral third party, based on criteria now made explicit and a transparent salary grid.
- Outside of the control of local direction and HR.
Ubisoft is a very wealthy company, and is not shy about it. This makes any situation where employees face precariousness unacceptable. Our statement establishes our guidelines on this topic for future actions.
We invite everyone who works at Ubisoft to contact us if you want to join our efforts, or discuss this topics with us. In particular, we invite all Ubisoft employees who have noticed discrepancies or discriminations against them during the last review period to contact their union representatives or to write us directly at email@example.com. The STJV stands ready to defend anyone who needs our help within the industry, whether unionized or not. We are stronger together!